For all the problems the 3DS had at the beginning of its life, Nintendo sure has recovered nicely. Many gaming analysts pronounced the 3DS dead and Nintendo to follow shortly after. Journalists across the world wrote doom article after doom article claiming the 3DS dead months after release. Nintendo on the other hand, had other plans. A $80 price cut, 20 free games for early adaptors, a few stellar Mario games, and some blockbuster 3rd party games later Nintendo is once again killing it in sales. Nintendo is like that heavyweight boxer everybody keeps saying is done, the newer younger fighters will knock them out, then BAM! The old heavyweight knocks out the faster stronger opponent. Why do Nintendo handhelds dominate every generation? Is it cause of Mario? Maybe, but that can’t be the only reason. In this article were going to breakdown what makes Nintendo so dominate in the handheld race and why Nintendo will never lose a handheld race.
– As a side not you should know, I don’t believe the cell phone gaming scene is going to eradicate dedicated handheld gaming. Nor do I believe cell phones cut into Nintendo or Sony’s market that much. The 3DS is selling tons of software and hardware. Nintendo is outpacing the DS sales numbers with the 3DS relative to their time on the market. So keep that in mind when you read this article. Also, I’m not including the Iphone or any other cell phones in the handheld race because we are speaking about dedicated gaming platforms.
Nintendo is experienced in the handheld world. Since 1989 they have been producing award winning ‘handheld experiences’ that resonate with millions of gamers. Now I quoted ‘handheld experiences’ because this is integral to Nintendo’s success. Handheld gamers want a fine-tuned handheld experience. Graphics comes second to gameplay and accessibility in the handheld gaming scene. Nintendo tends to create games that fit the pick-up and play nature that gamers demand. Nintendo has rarely had the technological edge over its competitors. Through the years competing companies have developed handheld systems that would boast better graphics, features, and hardware. Even with all the better features, Nintendo has struck them down. Lets rundown a long list of superior machines that were beat by a Nintendo handheld: Atari Lynx, NEC TurboExpress, Sega Game Gear, Sega Nomad, SNK Neo-Geo Pocket Color, Game.com, Neo Geo Pocket/Color, SwanCrystal, N-Gage, PSP, and the Gizmondo. That’s over 20 years of Nintendo kicking the competitions ass. The only handheld system to make any kind of dent in Nintendo’s armor was the PSP. However, the DS crushed the PSP in hardware and software sales. The UMD format was not popular with most gamers, and the exclusion of a second analog nub forced awkward controls for a system that had many console type games on it. The PSVita has fixed the PSP’s downfalls, but many games on the system are or feel like console games. Handheld games need to distinguish themselves in order to stand out. Many PSVita games just “seem” like light console versions of the same game. Sony needs to do more games like Gravity Rush and less games like Resistance Burning Skies if they want to have a chance at beating the Nintendo 3DS.
Will anybody ever make a dedicated gaming handheld to outsell anything Nintendo brings out? Short answer, no. It will not happen. At least not in our lifetime. Nintendo makes a lot of decisions that look stupid on paper, but end up being the right call. No second analog stick on the 3DS, no problem. Not only did Nintendo cut system costs by not adding a second analog stick, but they now are making millions off of people buying the Circle Pad Pro. Classic Nintendo business structure. Nintendo always does a good job of making their handheld systems cheap and easy to develop for. Look at MercurySteam, the creators Castlevania Lords of Shadow 1 & 2. You would think they would want to put that type of game on the PSVita, but it’s not coming to PSVita. Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate is coming exclusively to the 3DS because of cost, 3D, and Nintendo’s classic tradition of successful handheld systems. Nintendo will always has the leg up on the competition because of their previous success. Developers and Publishers trust Nintendo in the handheld space more than any other company. Nintendo also understands that your handheld games need to be separate unique experiences from their console counterparts. Look at New Super Mario Bros 2 on 3DS and New Super Mario Bros U. They visually look similar but both have unique qualities that separate the two. New Super Mario Bros 2 has the gold collecting hook while New Super Mario Bros U has Miiverse, 5 player co-op, longer levels, and boost rush mode. The Sega GameGear and Nomad could play console level games on the system but ended up failing to Nintendo’s 4bit Gameboy. Companies need to realize handheld games need to be separate from console games.
Nintendo is on a roll with the 3DS. They have fantastic software, improved hardware with the 3DS XL, and an upgraded Eshop experience. Nintendo has been in the handheld business for a long time and their experience shows every new generation. For another company to ever knock them off, they better have something spectacular. Or maybe they shouldn’t? Cause it really doesn’t matter does it?
What do you guys think? Nintendo is on top of the handheld world now, will it always be that way? Put them in the comments below.